Artist: Dorota Nieznalska
Confronting Bodies: Regional Court in Gdansk, and the Polish penal code article 196.
Date of Action: July 11, 2003.
Specific Location: Gdansk, Poland.
Description of Artwork: The artwork entitled "Passion," depicts a cross, adorned with fragments of photographs depicting a male nude with exposed genitalia. Projected upon the cross and photographs is an image of a man's face contorted from the rigors of exercise.
Description of Incident: The piece was displayed in the experimental twenty-year-old Wyspa Gallery in Gdansk. Notoriety was created regarding the piece after it was aired on television, neither exhibiting the entire piece, nor giving the viewing audience an explanation of the artist’s intention. Political uproar ensued and Nieznalska was brought into court, accused of violating article 196 of the Polish penal code, which protects religious feelings. Also of note, the Polish constitution affords it's citizenry the right to free expression.
Results of Incident: Due to the exhibition, the court ordered the distinguished Wypsa Gallery to be closed. Further, Nieznalska was sentenced to six months community service, with concurrent restriction of creative expression, and was ordered to pay the trial fees. Nieznalska is fighting the decision and seeking an appellate review. Further, the Wyspa Progress Foundation is campaigning to overturn the verdict through circulating petitions, and applying political pressure to uphold the Polish constitution right to free expression.
Source: Email Petition.
Submitted By: Peter Silverman,